‘No way in hell’: Ilhan Omar refuses to attend Israeli president’s upcoming Congress address

‘No way in hell’: Ilhan Omar refuses to attend Israeli president’s upcoming Congress address
Ilhan Omar has said she will not attend the upcoming joint address to Congress by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, citing the far-right Israeli government's ongoing violence against Palestinians among other reasons.
2 min read
13 July, 2023
Ilhan Omar has said Herzog’s address sends the 'wrong signal' to the world [Getty]

Rep. Ilhan Omar said on Wednesday that she does not plan to attend Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s upcoming joint address to Congress, citing the far-right Israeli government's ongoing violence against Palestinians.

"There is no way in hell I am attending the joint session address from a President whose country has banned me and denied Rep. Rashida Tlaib the ability to see her grandma," the Democratic Party’s Minnesota lawmaker said in one of a series of tweets justifying her decision.

"Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address comes on behalf of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, at a time when the government is openly promising to 'crush' Palestinian hopes of statehood—essentially putting a nail in the coffin of peace and a two-state solution," Omar said in another tweet.

Omar also highlighted the recent Israeli attack on Jenin, writing Herzog’s visit "comes during the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in history, immediately following Israel’s largest incursion into the occupied West Bank in two decades, one that flattened city blocks, and killed at least a dozen people".

In her Twitter thread, Omar pointed to the the far-right members of the current Israeli government, particularly the National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who she claimed had "directly attacked" US President Joe Biden.

She also spoke of the Israeli protests against what she called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s authoritarian "judicial coup".

Live Story

To address accusations that she was "singling out" Israel, Omar countered that she had also boycotted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s joint address to Congress last month, due to his government’s far-right 'Hindutva' ideology and human rights record.  

The House of Representatives member dismissed any notion that she was against dialogue with Israel, writing that the US "can and should use its diplomatic tools to engage with the Israeli government".

However, she warned that "giving the current government the honour of a joint televised address sends the absolute wrong signal at the wrong time". 

Herzog, who will be in Washington to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel, is set to address Congress on 19 July.

Ilhan Omar is so far the only progressive member of Congress to publicly state her refusal to attend Herzog’s speech, though it is thought more will follow as the date of his address approaches.